So, in just about two months I’m going to become a stay-at-home mom.
I can see where my life is going.
This has been an ongoing conversation between Steve and me since before we even got engaged, which feels like a thousand years ago now! At the time, I had just been accepted into a MSW (Masters in Social Work) program at Virginia Commonwealth University, and was trying to make a decision about whether or not to enroll. I remember Steve asking me, “But what will you do after we have kids?” and, kind of puzzled, I said, “Well, work I guess!”
In the three years since we had that conversation my thought process around the work vs. staying home dilemma has been all over the place. Obviously, I did ultimately decide against attending VCU, which really was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made, and the first difficult decision we had to make as a couple. A big reason why I decided not to go (at least during this stage in my life) was because deep down, I knew I wanted to have children sooner rather than later, and I knew I did not want to feel like I had to work, even if it turned out I didn’t want to, simply because I had gone back to school. Please note that this was the decision I made that was best for my family — so what’s best for your family could be totally different. (In other words, don’t think I’m making some big grandiose Statement For All Women here. I’m not.) I know myself and as hard as it was to come around to it, I had to admit that at the end of the day, I just don’t like to multitask that much. I don’t want to spend my child’s first years feeling pulled in two different directions and trying to serve, as it were, two masters. Other women handle this balance beautifully, but I am not those other women.
When I started my current job, of course, my conviction on this was somewhat shaken, and I found myself questioning whether I really did want to stay home with my kids one day. But the above remains true. I truly love what I do (I’m a social worker — I work with welfare recipients on self-sufficiency) and it was hard to make the ultimate decision to leave. I really wish I could clone myself so I could be both places at once! I really have my dream job and despite the fact that I’m leaving it for the best reason, it is hard to say goodbye.
That said, the upheaval that’s occurred in my life since I started working there (two years this spring) has made it, in some ways, much easier to say goodbye. I am tired, and I don’t just mean physically. I have a demanding job, and it’s hard to have a demanding job when you’re mentally, emotionally, and spiritually tired. I know that motherhood will not really alleviate this, but I can say with some certainty that I am ready to stop working for a while. I am ready for my life to be smaller in that way, to have just one focus — taking care of my baby.
I don’t know what’s next for me, career-wise — whether I’ll ever want to return to full time employment, or if I’ll go in a totally different direction. I do know that I never want my career, whatever it may be, to even approach my family in terms of importance. If that means I never get a paycheck again in my life, I don’t mind. I find satisfaction in my work, but not identity.
Maybe these future years will be my opportunity to finally be all the things I’ve idly thought or dreamed about doing — pastry chef? world famous author? yoga teacher? The world is my oyster, surely.